Despite the release of Office 2016 For Mac, there is still no Microsoft Publisher for Mac but you can open and edit Publisher files on Mac for free with some great alternatives or by using a little file conversion trick. Both ways are much easier and cheaper than installing Windows on your Mac in order to use the PC version of Publisher to edit MS Publisher .pub files. In fact, many alternatives to Publisher on Mac such as InDesign and Lucidpress are even better than Publisher itself. Many users that have used Publisher on Windows and later switched to Mac will tell you to forget about Publisher completely. Macs are actually far more geared towards Desktop Publishing (DTP) than PCs and there are many excellent alternatives to choose from both free and paid. Note you cannot access Publisher on your Mac via the online Cloud version of Microsoft Office 365. Publisher is only available on PC within Microsoft Office or by downloading Publisher separately for PC. First we’ll look at the best desktop publishing software alternatives to Windows Publisher and then we’ll look at a little trick to open and edit .pub files on Mac without needing to download any other software. If you need to OCR a document and then edit or import the text into one of these Publisher alternatives, we also recommend you read our guide to the Best OCR For Mac.
Publisher For Mac: Best Alternatives
This article is a combination of paid and best free alternatives to Publisher for Mac, the least expensive costing anything from $17.99 upwards. For most of them, you can download a free trial where available by clicking on the names.
Lucidpress is from the makers of Lucidchart diagramming software (a popular Visio alternative for Mac) and is a user friendly online desktop publishing tool which means there’s no software to download and it works on any platform. Although paid plans are available, the basic single user version is a free alternative to Publisher although it can’t edit .pub files. Lucidpress is suitable for newsletters, magazines, posters, pamphlets and brochures. You can add dynamic, interactive elements to documents and it’s very easy to get creative with it and find your way around. Lucidpress is particularly good if you have to work on a newsletter or magazine as a team as there’s a team subscription model which supports from 5 to 300 users collaborating at once. There are various pricing plans and although it is free for single users, the free version only exports PDFs in screen (not print) quality and also leaves a watermark. You can try Lucidpress free for 15 days and there’s no need to give your credit card details until the trial is over and you want to continue using it. If you subscribe annually, you pay in one lump sum for the year but receive a 20% discount. There are also 50% discounts for non-profit organizations and free accounts for students and teachers. For a full overview of Lucidpress pricing plans, check the feature comparison chart. You can try Lucidpress instantly online now to get a feel for it too.
You can also see a quick overview of some of the advantages and differences between Lucidpress and MS Publisher in this comparison chart:
You can see Lucidpress in action here:
Adobe InDesign has rapidly overtaken Quark to be the industry standard DTP software for Mac. For anyone that’s familiar with Adobe products, it’s preferable to QuarkXPress because it’s integrated into the powerful Creative Suite which features Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver etc. However, like the rest of Creative Suite, the latest version of Adobe InDesign has moved to a monthly subscription model basis as part of Adobe Creative Cloud. An older version of InDesign from CS6 is available however without a monthly subscription. If you sign-up for a year, you pay $19.99 per month or if you just want to take it on monthly basis without an annual subscription, Abode InDesign is $29.99 per month. Both of these include 20GB of cloud storage. You can however still buy a standalone version of Adobe InDesign version CS6 with no monthly subscription model. There are also special prices for students, teachers and businesses.
InDesign takes a long time to learn how to use properly but you can get an excellent overview of the basic here:
iStudio Publisher is an extremely user friendly and powerful alternative to Publisher on Mac. In fact, if cloud solutions like Lucidpress are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative to Publisher on Mac. iStudio Publisher produces very professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide. Creating brochures and documents is very easy – you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF. The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.
For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK which isn’t very common on with consumer level Desktop Publishing Software on Mac and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced. And if you have any problems or questions, we can speak from experience that the developer is also very quick and helpful which isn’t always the case with DTP software on Mac (they’re now available on Twitter too). If you want a user friendly alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a subscription and pay Adobe prices for software, iStudio Publisher is an excellent choice. And if you’re not sure whether to go for it, you can also try a fully functional free 30 day trial of iStudio Publisher before buying. You can see more of what iStudio Publisher for Mac can do here:
Swift Publisher is a user friendly and slick desktop publishing software for Mac that’s become increasingly popular. It doesn’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produces professional looking results. It’s ideal for producing bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy. Like Apple’s Pages desktop publishing software (which we look at shortly), there are lots of professional looking templates which you can customize for your specific needs, it’s integrated with iPhoto and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF etc. There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started. If you want an easy to use alternative to Publisher without a steep learning curve, then Swift Publisher is an excellent and economic option.
You can see an excellent overview of all the things that Swift Publisher can do here:
LibreOffice (Free. OS X 10.8+. Also available on Mac App Store. Older version for OS X 10.6.8)
LibreOffice is a free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and is based on the popular free Office suite for Mac OpenOffice. As of version 4.0, LibreOffice is the only program to both open and edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although you can’t export to Publisher format yet. You can edit MS Publisher files using Draw which is LibreOffice’s loose equivalent to Publisher. As you can see from the example Publisher file imported into LibreOffice below, the interface isn’t as user friendly or as slick as Publisher but it does work. Also, the rest of the LibreOffice suite is incredibly powerful and is able to import and export almost all Microsoft Office formats perfectly well. If you’re looking for a Publisher alternative with an entire Office suite thrown in for good measure, LibreOffice is definitely worth checking out.
You can see LibreOffice in action below – here demonstrated in Linux but the Mac version is exactly the same.
Publisher Plus (Free Lite Version or $19.99 Mac App Store)
It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Pages but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it faster to use. The Lite version of Publisher Plus allows you to edit Microsoft Publisher files for free although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to pay $19.99 from the Mac App Store to unlock the entire app. One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit unintuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different way. Publisher Plus is as a result now one of the most popular alternatives to Publisher on Mac available but there are disadvantages. For example, there are plenty of templates available – over 170 in fact – but the quality of them isn’t quite as good as in Pages. There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows. That said, if you compare it to MS Publisher, it actually has more features although it should be stressed, only if you upgrade. However, if you’re trying to create a magazine, advertisement or flyers, Publisher Plus is generally an excellent desktop publisher for Mac.
You can see some of what Publisher Plus can do and watch a useful tutorial about how to create a flyer using it here:
Pages is the Apple equivalent of Microsoft Word and part of Apple’s iWork suite. It does both word processing and desktop publishing and so allows you to create anything that’s possible with Microsoft Publisher. If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort. With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you’ll never pine for Microsoft Publisher again after trying Pages. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works. Note that if you’re using OS X 10.10 Yosemite and above, you don’t need to buy the entire iWork suite to get Pages – you can download it separately from the Mac App Store for $19.99.
You can watch a handy tutorial about what Pages for Mac can do here:
Scribus is a powerful professional free open source desktop publishing application which can do pretty much everything that Microsoft Publisher can and more. I has plenty of templates to choose from including Brochures, Newsletters and Posters. The main toolbar across the top provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be more exact with your designs. However, since it’s a free open source project, Scribus isn’t updated very often and you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work. There is no official developer support either although there is a Scribus community forum where you may find answers to your problems. If you want a free alternative to Publisher on Mac though, and have time study the extensive user guide, Scribus is a very powerful DTP program.
You can watch a quick tutorial of how to get up and going with Scribus quickly here:
QuarkXPress is probably the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software on the market. It has traditionally been the choice of professional publishers, Magazines and newspapers so if you’re only looking for an alternative to Publisher, it’s a bit of an overkill. However, if you’re intending to do more professional DTP work, then QuarkXPress is worth looking at. 20 years ago Quark used to the industry standard DTP program on Mac but has gotten increasingly slow, bloated and buggy over the years. As a result, it’s also lost market share to Adobe’s InDesign which forms part of Adobe Creative Suite. QuarkXPress is also quite complicated to learn for beginners but if you want to get really professional with publishing, it’s still one of he most powerful DTP programs you can get on Mac.
You can see QuarkXpress in action and learn what’s new in the latest version here:
How To Open Publisher On Mac For Free Without Software
There is no way to directly open Publisher .pub files on Mac apart from importing them into LibreOffice (see top of this list). However, you can get round this by:
a) Asking the sender to export the .pub files to a different format. This requires the sender to open the .pub files on Publisher in Windows and then export them to a different format that can be opened on Mac. Just go to File – Export – Change File Type in Publisher and select the desired format.
b) If this is not an option for you, you can convert the .pub files online using an online converter such as Zamzar.
How To Edit Publisher On Mac For Free
If you want to actually edit the .pub files and you’ve already got Microsoft Word or another desktop publishing software installed, then exporting it to RTF format will allow you to edit it in most Word Processing applications. Microsoft Word for Mac can be transformed into a basic version of Microsoft Publisher if you go to View and then Publishing Layout View. This turns Word into a basic DTP software and is probably the closest thing you’ll get to Publisher on Mac. Update: Please note this tip does not work in the new version of Office 2016 for Mac. Microsoft has removed the Publishing Layout View in Word 2016 For Mac. It only works up to Office 2011 for Mac. However, almost all other desktop publishing applications can open RTF files.
We’re sure that by using one of the solutions or alternatives featured here you can live without Publisher on your Mac. Lucidpress still remains the easiest and cheapest alternative to Microsoft Publisher on Mac although if you need something more complete, iStudio Publisher is incredibly powerful, easy to use and value for money.
However, if none of them are what you’re looking for and you simply must have Publisher on your Mac, then we recommend our guide on Best Way To Run Windows On Mac so that you can have the best of both worlds. You can install Windows on your Mac either by using a virtual machine such as Parallels or by using Boot Camp to install Windows on a partition on your Mac. Both have their problems when it comes to running Windows software such as Publisher on a Mac though and we recommend you use one of the alternatives covered in this article.
If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes for Mac, let us know in the comments below.